Look for gadgets or services that get people moving.
During the holidays, or at any time of year, a gift that benefits health can have a lasting impact. It may be especially helpful to someone who wouldn’t normally purchase such an item or doesn’t know about available options. A few guidelines to keep in mind: “The gift should be easy to use. Consider the receiver’s interests, and accommodate previous injuries, surgeries, medical conditions, or functional limitations,” says Dr. Clare Safran-Norton, a physical therapist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Health club memberships promote year-round health, but they can be pricey. The average cost in the United States is about $58 per month or $700 per year. If that’s too much, consider a gift certificate for a few sessions with a personal trainer. Costs vary, but you can find them for as low as $60 per hour. Look for a personal trainer who’s certified through an organization such as the American Council on Exercise (ACE).
A wearable fitness monitor is helpful to track everything from heart rate to the number of steps walked per day. The majority cost between $50 and $200, and you’ll find them at big box stores and sports retailers. An automatic pill dispenser makes sticking to a medication regimen easier for someone who takes several pills daily. The devices are available in drugstores and online. Prices start at about $50.
3. Workout equipment
For people who like to exercise at home, consider giving a new set of resistance bands, hand weights, a yoga mat, or exercise clothes with fibers that wick away moisture. Any of these can be found for less than $50.
An exercise class makes a good gift, especially if you offer to come along. “Sometimes people are more inclined to exercise with company. Plus, having someone with you adds an element of safety, and you can share a common goal,” says Dr. Safran-Norton. Consider tai chi, ballroom dance, or yoga. Classes are usually sold in packages. You’ll find them in exercise studios, hospitals, and community centers. Prices vary.
Don’t forget the gift of knowledge. Not surprisingly, we are partial to products from Harvard Health Publications. Give someone a newsletter for $20 a year, or one our many special health reports for $20 ($18 for an electronic copy). There are reports on dozens of topics, each offering insight and advice for improving your health, such as gaining better balance, boosting energy, and losing weight. Check them out at www.health.harvard.edu.